Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Marked for Misfortune: An epic tale of shipwreck, human endeavour and rescue in the age of sail by Jean Hood.

Marked for Misfortune: An epic tale of shipwreck, human endeavour and rescue in the age of sail by Jean Hood.  Hardcover book published by Conway Maritime Press 2003, 288 pages with a few black and white illustrations and photographs.

No. I have never been shipwrecked… well not physically, but the poor people in this book were shipwrecked in Madagascar in the late 1700s whilst on their way to India.  I’ve read a few shipwreck sagas over the years and I’m happy to say that unlike the participants, I enjoy a good ship wreck story... as long as i'm not part of it.  I’ve always been amazed at the durability of those that survived and the efforts of those that didn’t.  First hand accounts of shipwrecks where no one survives are rare,* but I guess that’s what historians and authors are there for.

One of the shipwreck books I have read was about some Russians who were stranded somewhere near Spitsbergen for several years**.  There were there on a three hour tour… actually it was a scouting excursion to see how many seals (or something similar) they could find and kill… when their main ship sank.  If my memory is correct they had packed a lunch (or something similar) and that was it.  I don’t want to go into all the details as I am meant to be writing about a completely different book, but the author did make the point that these were not 21st century booksellers (or similar), but rather eighteenth century Russian sealers who had a fair level of skills that enabled them to survive for all those years in an unfriendly environment.

Unfortunately there weren’t any Russian sealers on the Winterton (the name of the ship that this book is about) and as the title suggests the passengers and crew were “Marked for Misfortune”.  Some of them did manage to survive and there was a hero which is always a good thing in a story such as this one.  There was also a lot grief and strife, including a war, before the survivors reached Calcutta.

As you can probably gather, I haven’t read this book.  But this is the sort of book that I would read if my reading stack wasn’t as unmanageable as it currently is.  I guess my pile of unread books is my own shipwreck. If this one were to join it, I don’t know if it would survive. 

*Rocket science observation.
** Four Against the Arctic: Shipwrecked for Six Years at the Top of the World by David Roberts.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Raymond Island: Past, Present, Future by Midge Beesley.

Raymond Island: Past, Present, Future by Midge Beesley.  Hardcover book published by the author 1986, 291 pages with some black and white photographs.

Raymond Island?  Canada? United States? It’s actually here in Victoria not far from Bairnsdale.  My apologies to any of the Raymond Islanders for not having heard of Raymond Island before finding this book, but the truth is that… I hadn’t heard of Raymond Island before finding this book.  Of course I’m now 100% jiggy with where it is and after having met a few Raymondites recently in the shop, I’m also aware of the fierce patriotism that some hold for their island paradise. 

The island is connected to the mainland via a chain ferry and there has been quite a bit of discussion over the years as to whether a bridge might be a better option.  Apparently, opinion is divided.
“The Raymond Island ferry is the distinctive feature that makes a visit to the island different to any other small township in Victoria.  It is the visitor’s introduction to the island’s thirteen square miles of wooded tracks and sandy beaches that as yet, are comparatively untouched by development, and the fact that the ferry is free adds to the charm of the journey across the mere 150 yard stretch of water.” Page 191
I think this is a clear indication as to the authors opinion on the matter.  A bridge could of course threaten the thirteen miles of wooded tracks and those sandy beaches may become a little more congested with all that extra traffic that a bridge would bring, so I guess the issue will continue to rear and rage for many years to come.  

This book has been signed by the author and has a name written on the same page.  More than one person has contacted me since I listed it on line, wanting to know whose name it is. This is a little bit strange as I’ve never had this sort of inquiry before or since.  When I mentioned this to the Raymondians that visited us here in Clunes, they weren’t surprised and explained that the books owner was probably known to most of those with any connection to the island… and then wanted to know whose name was in the book.  In other words the big question is, who has gotten rid of their piece of island history and why.  This is all small town stuff and to be honest not really that suprising other than a slightly more aggressive patriotism than any small community normally has.   

I still haven’t been to Raymond Island as it’s not really an area of Victoria that I have visited oft.  I wouldn’t hesitate in visiting it if I was there and by all accounts it is worth a visit.  When i do go, I might take this book along… and possibly find the original owner and answer everyone’s question.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Sandman: Volume 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman.

The Sandman: Volume 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman.  Paperback book published by DC Comics 1993, 191 pages with colour illustrations throughout (graphic novel) as well as a few colour and black and white photographs.

I was a fan… I’d even go so far as to say, I am still a fan of The Sandman, this is despite not having read it in over 20 years.  20 years!!!  I am getting old.  Most people read this in their teens and young adulthood, yet I haven’t read this in more than 1 batch of teens growing up with The Sandman.  So who and what is the Sandman?

The Sandman

The Sandman is the guy who rules over the world of dreams.  More importantly though he is a fictional character in the comic/graphic novels written by Neil Gaiman of which this is one of the graphic novels.  From memory Mr Sandman seems to float in and out of most of the stories which are separate from each other.  This means that each of the books, which are collections of the original comics, is a complete story unto itself.  I also remember he had a sister named Death, who not surprisingly (she is Death) looks a lot like a generic goth.  She also floated in out of the stories.  

Back in the day, I enjoyed reading the comics as they came out and keenly awaited the arrival of each issue.  They were imported copies and from memory were air freighted to Australia from the US.  They were intelligently written and were definitely engaging on many levels which I think is what appealed to me at the time.  Apparently I wasn’t alone in my keenness and even Norman Mailer was quoted as saying it was "a comic strip for intellectuals."*  Surprisingly, unlike many other graphic novels and comics, there has been no film adaptation as of yet.  I write this as it seems to me that they make everything else into a movie, so why not The Sandman

When I first started selling books on line, I had a good look at what I had in my own collections that I no longer “needed” to have and found my pile of dusty Sandman comics.  I made the decision to move them on, not out of dislike or lack of interest, but more as a space and money making exercise.  They did sell and I did make some money.  I don’t regret selling them as I figure anyone that bought them would be a fan and realistically they were only gathering dust at my place, so it was time that they gathered dust at someone else’s place**.  I have other books and things that also gather dust which I haven’t moved on… which I don’t have any plans on selling at the moment, but you never know. It would be nice to sell this book before it also gathers too much dust... or am i just dreaming.

* … i guess that excludes me.
** Now gathering German dust.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Conjuring as a Craft by Ian Adair.

Conjuring as a Craft by Ian Adair.  Hardcover book published by David & Charles 1970, 160 pages with black and white photographs and illustrations.

The idea of a Magician performing their craft conjures up all types of magical images.  Who hasn’t seen a rabbit pop out of a hat or a lady cut in half… to be honest, I haven’t.  I’ve only ever seen this sort of thing on the telly, but I think you get the idea that these are the images that we all know and love whenever we think of magic.

The author of this book is still performing his magic despite retiring a few years back and has written a number of other books and articles, besides this one, over the years.  His works include 3 volumes of The Encyclopedia of Dove Magic… that’s a lot of Doves.  There are no Dove tricks in this book.  I guess the author was saving them all for his magnum opus... or possibly he'd already made them all disappear and there were none left (???).  As far as I can tell, there are also no rabbits or half ladies (or half rabbits) in the book. There are plenty of card, coin and other tricks though to get one started in the world of magic tricks. Maybe live animals (including humans) is something for the more experienced magician. I’m not a magician so I can’t really write what is appropriate for a novice to begin with, but somehow I think cutting a lady in half is something you need a bit of experience to do.   

I tend to pick up magic books when I find them.  Magic isn’t a subject that tends to disappear off the shelf, but I have a fondness for the idea of magic and therefore I pick up the books when I find them.  The following reminiscence is possibly one of the reasons why this is.

Many years ago I was catching a few “interesting” live bands in a cabaret setting in Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), when all of a sudden. in between a band featuring a Dalek on drums (yes, one of those Dr Who baddies) and a band of make believe Greek musicians (I don’t think any of them were Greek… but they were all having a good time), a magician rolls his table of tricks out on the stage.  I can’t remember his name, but I do remember some very drunk patrons getting as close as possible to the action.  The magician was not phased and let them watch.  So these guys are watching every move as close as possible and occasionally yelling out when they think they have figured out what's going on.  The magician is of course doing something completely different and just keeps on calmly baffling the inebriated and disappointed magic fans who continually cry out “No way”.   What’s interesting is that I didn’t really see the tricks and what I vaguely did see I don’t remember.  What I do remember is the drunk guys being unable to figure it out.  Somehow this guy impressed me… the drunks also impressed me... and the Dalek really impressed me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Clouds by Eric M. Wilcox.

Clouds by Eric M. Wilcox.  Hardcover book (with pictorial boards) published by Duncan Baird Publishers 2008, 176 pages with colour photographs throughout.

The title says it all.  It’s a book about clouds.  Fortunately the author has avoided using too much text and has instead filled the pages with awesome pictures of… you guessed it… clouds.  There is some text but unlike the geography classes that I sat through in the early 1980s where I learnt the meaning of the words boring and tedious whilst a teacher moaned on and on (and on) about cumulus, stratus and cirrus, this book has a wonderful balance of pretty pictures and text that are both educational and aesthetically pleasing.  I get the feeling that if I actually read “Clouds”, I could learn something.  

“This irresistible book, with a chapter for each of the ten major cloud types, combines science with beauty, presenting approximately 100 superb cloud photographs, with explanatory captions. An enjoyable introduction delivers fascinating snippets of mythology and weather lore; while a 24-page scientific overview at the back of the book, fully illustrated with informative colour artworks, explains how to recognize the different cloud types and understand their significance for the weather Studying clouds, we learn, is like reading someone’s face: a cloud is simply the atmosphere expressing its mood.”  

I guess it was the photographs that attracted me to this book.  You can’t really go wrong with pretty pictures of fluffy things floating in the air (…this excludes cats).  As you’ve probably gathered, my knowledge of clouds is minimal, yet I can appreciate the beauty of an Altocumulus as I’m sure most of us have at some stage in our lives.  

So if you’ve ever wondered what is a Stratus or a Cirrocumulus, or if you’ve ever wanted to differentiate between Cirrus and Altocumulus… or if you really want to know what that teacher was waffling on about for all those weeks back in the early 1980s… or even if you like pictures of fluffy things (excluding cats)... then this is possibly the book for you. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Perspectives in Psychical Research Series.

27 Hardcover Books published by Arno Press 1975, various pagination (see below) some of the volumes have some black and white photographs or illustrations (or both). The list below has the title, the author, the date the book was originally published (these are all reprints) and number of pages.

- A Thought-Reader’s Thoughts by Stuart Cumberland (1888, 326 pages).

- Clairvoyance & Thoughtography by T. Fukurai (1931, 247 pages).

- Theory and Experiment in Psychical Research by William G. Roll (1975(?), 510 pages).

- Zoar: Or The Evidence of Psychical Research Concerning Survival by W.H. Salter (1961, 238 pages).

- Beware Familiar Spirits by John Mulholland (1938, 342 pages).

- Sketches of the Philosophy of Apparitions by Samuel Hibbert (1824, 459 pages).

- Revelations of a Spirit Medium by Harry Price and Eric Dingwall (1922, 327 pages).

- Science and Psychical Phenomena by G.N.M. Tyrrell (1938, 379 pages).

- Clairvoyance and Materialism by Gustave Geley (1927, 401 pages).

- Phenomena of Materialisation: A Contribution to the investigation of Mediumistic Teleplastics by Baron Von Schrenck Notzing (1920, 340 pages).

- Miracles and Modern Spiritualism by Alfred Russel Wallace (1896, 292 pages).

- Somnolism and Psycheism: Or, the Science of the Soul and the Phenomena of Nervation as Revealed by Vital Magnetism or Mesmerism, considered Physiologically and Philosophically by Joseph W. Haddock (1851, 240 pages).

- New Dimensions of Deep Analysis by Jan Ehrenwald (1955?, 316 pages). 

- The Newer Spiritualism by Frank Podmore (1910, 320 pages).

- Experimental Telepathy by Rene Warcollier (1938, 296 pages). 

- Experiments in Psychical Research at Leland Stanford Junior University by John Edgar Coover (1917, 642 pages). 

- Extrasensory Perception, edited by Fabian Gudas (1961, 141 pages).

- Psychical Research: The Science of the Super-Normal by Hans Driesch (1933, 176 pages).

- Natural and Mesmeric Clairvoyance: With the Practical Application of Mesmerism in Surgery and Medicine by James Esdaile (1852, 272 pages).

- Report of the Experiments on Animal Magnetism, made by a Committee of the Medical Section of the French Royal Academy of Sciences: Read at the Meetings of the 21st and 28th of June, 1831. With an Historical and Explanatory Introduction, and an Appendix by J.C. Colquhoun (1833, 252 pages).

- Beyond Normal Cognition: An Evaluative and Methodological Study of the Mental Content of Certain Trance Phenomena by John F. Thomas (1937, 319 pages). 

- Laboratory Investigations Into Psychic Phenomena by Hereward Carrington (1939, 255 pages).

- Fifty Years of Psychical Research: A Critical Survey by Harry Price (1939, 383 pages).

- The Enchanted Boundary by Walter Franklin Prince (1930, 344 pages).

- The Case for and Against Psychical Belief, edited by Carl Murchison (1927, 365 pages).

- Evidence of Personal Survival: From Cross Correspondences by H.F. Saltmarsh (1938, 159 pages).

- Studies in Psychical Research by Frank Podmore (1897, 458 pages).

27 volumes… it was a box full.  Actually, it was 30 volumes.  One volume was in there twice and another was in there three times.  I was a little surprised when I found the repeated volumes and can only guess that the original buyer was a little too keen to get the complete series and therefore mistakenly doubled up on a few volumes.  Unfortunately they were still a few volumes short of the complete set, as there were 34 volumes in the series.

The books all deal with the subject of Psychical Research in its various forms.  Yes, I also had to figure out exactly what this meant.  It’s parapsychology: “The study of the evidence for psychological phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis, that are inexplicable by science.”

To be honest, my attention starts to glaze over and then considerably begins to wander (and wonder) as soon as I try to get my head around the concept of what this is all about.  Once again this is about me and less about the books and their contents.  There are though, many people out there who are passionate and interested in parapsychology and the best evidence of this is the interwebs.  If you go to google and type in parapsychology you get nearly 3 million hits, Huc & Gabet only gets 28 thousand hits.  Sadly, Huc & Gabet (both the bookseller and the original Huc & Gabet) is a long way behind parapsychology.

The books are mostly reprints of earlier works and the volumes I have were originally published between 1824 and 1975.  There’s everything here from telepathy to clairvoyance, spiritualism to mesmerism etc etc.  I have 27 volumes, so i would hope that they cover a broad spectrum of the subject at hand.  I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of what each book is about as this means that i would then have to get an understanding of the 27 volumes.  Life is too short... and if your really interested i have done brief descriptions in the Books & Collectibles listings of the individual volumes Here are a few exciting scans from Phenomena of Materialisation: A Contribution to the investigation of Mediumistic Teleplastics by Baron Von Schrenck Notzing (... and no, these are not pictures of people with pasta):

Ectoplasm at it’s best.  

This is obviously serious stuff and not for the casual Ouija Board user.

Arno Press specialized in publishing reprints for library collections during the 1970s, which I guess explains this particular series.  No doubt, most of (if not all) of these titles were long out of copyright at the time and Arno sensing a market for these books, grabbed the opportunity to make a few $$$.  I can’t imagine these books were cheap when they were published and from what I can gather these particular volumes were originally purchased through the Theosophical Society Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia.*  If you wanted to buy the books now, they are mostly available as Print on Demand, in other words, generic paperbacks or varying print quality as apposed to the lovely hardcover reprints, lovingly published by Arno Press in 1975 (… and now available from Huc & Gabet).

Condition wise, the books are mostly in very good condition.  The lettering on all the covers has slightly faded or dulled and there is minimal wear to the books themselves.  At a guess I’d say the original buyer either didn’t read the books or read them very carefully, once only.  

I mentioned finding this set to a fellow bookseller who commented in the negative regarding the clogging up of shelves with these “type” of books. There is something about them that makes me think that there is a market for them.  Let’s just hope that someone becomes mesmerized enough into buying them.  

 *Some of the books have the booksellers ink stamp on the front endpaper.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kaikai Aniani: A Guide to Bush Foods Markets and Culinary Arts of Papua New Guinea by R. J. May.

Kaikai Aniani: A Guide to Bush Foods Markets and Culinary Arts of Papua New Guinea by R. J. May.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards published by Robert Brown and Associates 1984, 192 pages with colour photographs as well as a few sepia photographs and some black and white illustrations.

 “A detailed reference and recipe book for all those interested in the foods of Papua New Guinea. Ideal for nutritionists, anthropologists, teachers and other field workers, and especially those cooks wanting to benefit from the foods found in the markets of Papua New Guinea.” 

I like an unusual cookbook, something out of the ordinary… something of interest.  We all know what Jamie wants us to eat and yes I have become quite familiar with the food of Vietnam, Italy and France.  As the world gets smaller, it’s time to consider what’s left of world cuisine that hasn’t been plundered and repackaged for prime time television.  I don’t know if I would ever go so far as to eat raw seal liver (an inuit dish… although I don’t believe they use a dish) or drinking cows blood after a circumcision (…not sure if this is your own circumcision or someone elses… regardless, I don’t think I could do it), but I’m up for a challenge… within reason.  This book is less of a challenge than I originally anticipated and is filled with wonderful and tasty looking photographs, descriptions of food and easy to prepare recipes.

So what do the people of Papua New Guinea eat?  I have no idea.  A quick flick through and yes there are a few familiar ingredients such as sweet potato, banana, pig, mango etc etc, but there are just as many items that I have either barely heard of or have never heard of, most of them being bush foods.  There are also heaps of Asian fruits and vegetables which is really not that surprising considering where PNG is.  Like many indigenous people around the world, they do eat their fauna and the book does include recipes for Mumued Mumut (Bandicoot), Flying Fox with prunes and cream sauce, Baked Snake and of course the world wide culinary phenomenon known as Chicken Curry.  There’s a recipe for Margarita which I’m not so sure is traditional but in a tropical climate such as PNG, probably most appreciated.  

It will be interesting to see if Gordon, Nigella, Heston etc ever make it to PNG, but in the meantime we have this book to enjoy. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Honey Flora of Victoria.

The Honey Flora of Victoria. Paperback book published by Department of Agriculture Victoria Australia 1949 (fifth edition), 136 pages with black and white illustrations as well as some black and white photographs.

Whilst writing about poultry books a few months back, I briefly mentioned that Bee Keeping books are another one of those subjects (like Poultry) that is often asked for in the second hand book trade… at least that’s what happens here in Clunes.  This book has nothing to do with the keeping of bees.  It is though, a book that bee keepers here in Victoria all want, as even a complete bee novice such as myself, knows that without good flora, there ain’t no good honey.  The book isn’t cheap, but as we all know, no money, no honey.

The book contains descriptions of Victorian trees, blossoms and the honey produced thereof, which is very handy if you’re a Victorian bee keeper (or a bee)… which is the whole point of the book.  Despite being written for Victorian bee keepers, I’m fairly sure our neighbouring states would also get some use out of the book.  This was the fifth edition which probably indicates that the book was popular at the time.  From what I can gather, it’s still popular despite being vintage and now long out of print… actually, it’s not “out of print” as such, as earlier editions are now available as “Print on Demand”.  
Recently, I was once again asked for any bee books and fortunately was able to pull this particular title off the shelf.  Unfortunately the inquirer already had this one, which is great for the inquirer… but isn’t great for the Huc & Gabet bank balance.  I guess this sale just wasn’t meant to bee.